Nearly 30 years ago, the Pillars of Creation astounded the astronomy world when they were captured by NASA’s famous Hubble Space Telescope.
Now a new generation can enjoy a fresh look at the haunting landscape after the US space agency’s $10 billion (£7.4 billion) James Webb Hyperspace Telescope captured the same tendrils of gas and dust.
Resembling a ghostly hand, the Pillars of Creation are part of the Eagle Nebula – located 6,500 light-years from Earth – and are known to be a source of star formation.
This week NASA and the European Space Agency revealed another look at Webb’s sharp eye plumes.
Bonito: Almost 30 years ago, the Pillars of Creation astonished the astronomer when it was captured by NASA’s famous Hubble Space Telescope. Now a new generation can enjoy a fresh look at the eerie landscape after the US space agency’s $10billion (£7.4billion) James Webb Space Telescope captured the same tendrils of gas and dust (pictured)
Hubble took the first image of the Pillars of Creation in 1995. It provided the first evidence that stars could be born inside the pillars.
What are the pillars of creation?
It is one of the most iconic space features ever caught on camera.
The Pillars of Creation were first captured by NASA’s Hubble Telescope in 1995, then re-imaged in 2014.
Now, nearly 30 years after our first sighting of the dying formation, it has been imaged again by NASA’s new James Webb Superspace Telescope.
The Pillars of Creation, located 6,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of the Serpent, are part of the Eagle Nebula.
It is known to be an important source of star formation.
Gas and dust in the tentacle-like tendrils give rise to stars, including many young ones and some now depicted as being as young as 100,000 years old.
In the 1995 Hubble image, the blue colors represent oxygen, red is sulfur, and green represents nitrogen and hydrogen.
The pillars are blanketed in burning ultraviolet light from an extraframe group of young stars.
The winds from these stars are slowly eroding the towers of gas and dust.
The latest image was taken in mid-infrared light, which obscures the brightness of stars to capture only the outflow of gas and dust. This provided a new way to experience and understand the amazing composition.
Webb has instruments that see in different wavelengths of infrared light.
In October, experts released an image of the Creation Pillars from the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), before following up with an image from the Medium Infrared Instruments (MIRI).
They’ve now stitched the images together to produce a haunting image that shows off the best of both views, showing bright edges of dust where young stars are just beginning to form.
NIRCam reveals newly formed stars orange outside the pillars, while MRI shows layers of dust forming.
“This is one of the reasons why the region is filled with stars – dust is a key element in star formation,” NASA said.
The bright red fingertips on the second column indicate active star formation, but the stars are just babies—NASA estimates they are only 100,000 years old.
It takes millions of years to fully form.
“By combining images of the iconic Pillars of Creation from two cameras aboard NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the cosmos is framed in infrared glory,” Webb’s team writes.
They said it “has lit up this star-forming region with new detail.”
When knots of gas and dust of sufficient mass form at the poles, they begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heating up and eventually forming new stars.
“Newly formed stars are especially visible at the edges of the two upper pillars – they practically do,” Webb’s team said.
Almost everything you see in this scene is local.
The distant universe is largely obscured from our view by the interstellar medium, which consists of gas and dust scattered between the stars and a thick layer of dust in our galaxy, the Milky Way.
As a result, stars take center stage in the web show Pillars of Creation.
The Pillars of Creation are located in the constellation of the Serpent.
New Super Telescope: Webb (pictured) has instruments that see in multiple wavelengths of infrared light
In October, experts released an image of the Creation Pillars from the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam).
Then proceed with a medium infrared device image (MIRI).
This cluster contains a hot young star cluster, NGC6611, visible with modest telescopes in the back garden, which carves out and illuminates the surrounding gas and dust, producing huge holes and hollow pillars, each several light-years away.
An image taken by Hubble in 1995 indicated that new stars were being born inside the pillars. Because of the dust blockage, the Hubble Space Telescope’s visible-light image was unable to see inside and prove that young stars were forming.
So NASA brought Hubble back for a second visit, allowing them to compare the two snapshots.
Astronomers have noticed changes in the jet-like characteristic as it drifts away from one of the newborn stars within the pillars.
The jet has grown 60 billion miles in length between observations, indicating that the material in the jet was traveling at about 450,000 miles per hour.
James Webb Telescope: NASA’s $10 billion telescope designed to detect light from the oldest stars and galaxies
The James Webb telescope has been described as a “time machine” that can help unlock the secrets of our universe.
The telescope will be used to observe the first galaxies that were born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago, looking at the sources of stars, exoplanets, and even the moons and planets of our solar system.
The massive telescope, which used to cost more than $7 billion (£5 billion), is considered the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
The James Webb telescope and most of its instruments have a temperature of about 40 K — about minus 387 Fahrenheit (minus 233 Celsius).
It is the largest and most powerful orbiting space telescope in the world, capable of looking back 100-200 million years after the Big Bang.
The infrared observatory orbiting it is designed to be about 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA likes to think of James Webb as Hubble’s successor rather than a replacement, as the two will be working together for a while.
The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It orbits Earth at 17,000 mph (27,300 km/h) in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 340 miles.
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